2 February 2021

Welcome to the AAS Education Blog!

AAS Education Committee

The AAS Education Committee would like to welcome you to our new blog. Thanks to so many of you in the astronomy education community, there are many materials, programs, resources, and discussion forums for teaching and learning astronomy. With this blog, we hope to create a “value-added” way to highlight education-related activities supported by the AAS and others that may be of interest to AAS members. Blog posts will include deeper dives into topics of interest and connect readers with additional resources.

AAS education activities are guided by the 2016 Task Force Report on Education, our most recent systematic review and planning document. This report emphasized the high-impact role of professional development on education at all levels. The top three priorities identified in the report were:

The EPD mini-grants program creates opportunities for AAS members to provide professional development and mentoring on education-related topics to other members. This could be in the form of workshops at AAS or division meetings; stand-alone workshops; virtual experiences; or networking opportunities — these are but a few examples. The program has been running for four years, and we had a recent proposal deadline, but watch this space for the next call in the coming weeks.

The creation of a Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy Graduate Education was recommended in the 2016 Task Force Report on Education; this group was formed in 2017 and released their report in 2019. The report makes a number of recommendations to departments around (1) improving access for students from groups that have long been marginalized in the field, (2) improving the climate of departments and therefore student retention, and (3) tools for data collection to inform decision making and metrics for success. The report also provided guidance to the AAS directly, with goals of encouraging departments to adopt the recommendations and supporting and monitoring their progress.

Finally, the creation of “an active and vital Internet presence for AAS Education in the form of a curated, moderated blog with both formal and informal components for news and scholarship on educational practices and materials” was listed as a priority of the Task Force Report on Education.

Kim Coble (chair) and the AAS Education Committee
Kim Coble (chair) and the AAS Education Committee

In the coming weeks and months, you will be hearing from members of our committee, EPD mini-grants awardees, and others involved in AAS education. Topics will include information about a number of projects associated with EPD mini-grants, updates on our work looking at upper-division undergraduate astronomy curriculum, remote telescopes, teaching online, the new IAU Astronomy Education Journal, how to become involved as part of our committee, and more.